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GNU is Not Unix

RMS Accused Of Attempting Glibc Hostile Takeover 887

Bram Stolk sent a bit in thats been floating around lately where Ulrich Drepper, glibc maintainer announces the new version, and sidetracks to discuss an an RMS takeover attempt and how he feels about it. He raises several good points and I tend to agree with him. The FSF has done, and continues to do so much good, but more and more tension continues to grow between the extreme free speech faction and the more moderate folks. People have asked my opinion, and I'll just leave it by saying I don't prefix "Linux" with those 3 little letters and a slash even tho I've been asked.
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RMS Accused Of Attempting Glibc Hostile Takeover

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  • Thought Police (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Stickerboy ( 61554 )
    Isn't it striking that people who claim to be members of a group advocating free thought and speech would be so anal and vitrolic about everyone who doesn't call Linux GNU/Linux?

    • by ChaosDiscord ( 4913 ) on Sunday August 19, 2001 @06:55PM (#2195115) Homepage Journal

      Freedom of speech includes the freedom to complain loudly about other's speech. Freedom of speech includes the freedom to be as anal and vitrolic as you want. So what's the problem?

      • I use some Gnu tools and many more non-gnu-licensed tools with my linux kernels. I'm not gonna say Gnu/Apache/Perl/BSD/etc/Linux, and neither should anyone else. Yeah, the system would be less useful without gnu tools, it'd also not be what it is without all the other pieces of software on it.

        It's a "Linux" system. Nothing more.
        • Re:Thought Police (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Chops ( 168851 ) on Sunday August 19, 2001 @07:43PM (#2195288)
          This common misunderstanding is part of why RMS is so adamant about "GNU/Linux." A modern Linux system uses the GNU project's system libraries, compiler toolchain, and (mostly) command-line Unix tools (tar, gzip, etc.) Without any one of these, Linux couldn't function as a modern Free OS -- they're not "trivial" add-ons like Perl or Apache.

          I personally say "Linux," probably because I'm afraid of looking silly. It is true, though, that there's more GNU code on your machine than Linux (i.e. kernel) code, and it's just as necessary to get your bash prompt to come up. Some people say it's "more necessary" (since GNU has a kinda-sorta-almost-working kernel, but AFAIK gcc and glibc have no existing Free replacements), but that just starts flamewars.
          • Re:Thought Police (Score:3, Insightful)

            by kubrick ( 27291 )
            I personally say "Linux," probably because I'm afraid of looking silly.

            It's written GNU/Linux, and pronounced "Linux". Or, "Linux, with a silent GNU/".

            Not that I advocate it one way or the other, just offering a way out of your dilemma. :)
        • Re:Thought Police (Score:5, Insightful)

          by ChaosDiscord ( 4913 ) on Sunday August 19, 2001 @07:57PM (#2195334) Homepage Journal

          I use some Gnu tools and many more non-gnu-licensed tools with my linux kernels. I'm not gonna say Gnu/Apache/Perl/BSD/etc/Linux, and neither should anyone else. Yeah, the system would be less useful without gnu tools, it'd also not be what it is without all the other pieces of software on it.

          The point isn't that the GNU tools are a major part of a standard Linux distribution.

          In the early 1990s, the GNU project had everything you needed for a baseline operating system. Compiler, assembler, linker, C library, shell. Everything except a kernel. Linus took those tools and added the final piece, the kernel. Linus didn't need X-Windows or Perl. Apache didn't exist. Linus needed a compiler, a linker, an assembler, a C library, and a shell. He used the GNU project's tools. Linux is built upon a foundation of GNU tools.

          That's why the Stallman can claim the GNU project has a valid claim to share the Linux title. Why bother? Politics. Stallman is pushing a political and ethical agenda. Free Software or nothing. Part of his job is to spread the word, and getting the GNU name used is a great way to do it. Every user who says "What's the GNU thing in front of Linux?" is an opportunity to spread the word.

          That said, I'm not sure I agree that it should be called GNU/Linux. It seems a bit pushy to me. But don't make the mistake that he wants it called GNU/Linux just because the GNU tools are part of the typical package. He wants it added to help spread the Free Software word. His claim is that the GNU tools where the foundation.

          • Re:Thought Police (Score:5, Interesting)

            by Arandir ( 19206 ) on Sunday August 19, 2001 @10:39PM (#2195764) Homepage Journal
            But Linus Torvalds did not take an existing unfinished GNU operating system and merely add the missing piece. Yes, GNU could have taken the Linux kernel and completed its OS, but they did not. And it's not what Linus did.

            The real, unrevised, history is very different. Linus started with the goal of creating a complete operating system. Once he got the kernel and a few bits of infrastructure done, he and his collaborators chose to use off-the-shelf parts already available to complete it. Some of those parts were from GNU, but many others from elsewhere. And many of the crucial components were written *specifically* for Linux.

            To use an analogy, imagine that RMS set out to create an automobile. He was all finished except for the engine. Now Linus comes along and builds an engine. He goes and grabs a drive train and chassis from GNU Autoparts Store, and an electrical system from BSD. He and many friends contribute to the miscellaneous components. Voila! It's an ugly car, but it works.

            GNU does not get to name this automobile. They did not build it. They only supplied some critical parts.
          • From the original GNU manifesto:

            "Don't programmers deserve a reward for their creativity?"

            If anything deserves a reward, it is social contribution. Creativity can be a social contribution, but only in so far as society is free to use the results. If programmers deserve to be rewarded for creating innovative programs, by the same token they deserve to be punished if they restrict the use of these programs.

            I think I agree with all of that. But Stallman does not. He demands that the naming rights tag along with the work - a stupid, tragic restriction on the use of those programs, one that has nothing to do with coding, and one that will in effect prevent GNU software's use by endlessly confusing possible users.

            Having created, Stallman is using all his efforts to control his creation. So, by his own thinking, Stallman deserves punishment. Q.E.D.

          • Re:Thought Police (Score:3, Insightful)

            by oconnorcjo ( 242077 )
            Compiler, assembler, linker, C library, shell. Everything except a kernel. Linus took those tools and added the final piece, the kernel.

            So if I write a new operating system (called Nifty_New_OS) but I use Borlands compilers and toolset, Borland should have the right to insisting it be called Borland/Nifty_New_OS? Frankly I think RMS is off his rocker.
      • Freedom of speech includes the freedom to complain loudly about other's speech. Freedom of speech includes the freedom to be as anal and vitrolic as you want. So what's the problem?

        This is very silly. So you say it's a "problem" for people to complain about RMS's speech, but it's fine for RMS to complain about other people.

        Well now I'm complaining about your complaining about other people complaining about RMS's complaining. And you say yourself that's part of my freedom of speech. So there! :)
        • And you say yourself that's part of my freedom of speech. So there! :)

          Actually, yes. It is your freedom. Now you're starting to get it. Anybody who fully believes that Freedom of speech includes the freedom to complain loudly about other's speech would certainly welcome you excercising your opinion.

          Feels good to be free, doesn't it? Too bad few people can let go. The ones who haven't figure it out yet are the ones so tense, and ultimate the ones who want to shut the rest of us up.

          GNU/Linux. Linux/GNU. Where'd that TCP stack come from again? *snicker*
        • So you say it's a "problem" for people to complain about RMS's speech, but it's fine for RMS to complain about other people.

          I didn't say it was a problem at all. I disagreed with Stickerboy and posted what I felt was a correction. That's my point. Disagreeing with him doesn't mean I'm trying to limit his speech. I'm trying to change his mind, and the mind of anyone else reading it. Stallman is doing the same thing. He's not a hypocrite for insisting on GNU/Linux instead of Linux. He's trying to change people's minds.

      • Freedom of speech includes the freedom to complain loudly about other's speech.

        Yes, that's correct, but you've missed the point. The point was the irony of the situation. Here we have this man who for decades has been drumming support for freer licensing, all the while claiming to represent some ultimate form of freedom in software development and usage. As it turns out, this same individual is very upset that so many people have the freedom to disregard him and his attempts to take control. Sure, he's free to complain, but so are we free to point out how ironic his current actions are against the backdrop of twenty years of rhetoric.
    • Well if someone who did a small percentage of the work is going to name an OS after himself, then why shouldn't the name include the group who did the large percentage of the work? RMS didn't name an OS after himself that he based on other people's work. Stop viewing things through tinted glasses people.
      • Well if someone who did a small percentage of the work is going to name an OS after himself,

        Linus did not name it after himself. He originally released it as Freax, but the FTP site admin didn't like that, and changed it to Linux. The name stuck.

        (That's how I heard it, anyway)

        RMS didn't name an OS after himself that he based on other people's work.

        No, but he did try to name one that was not his after his pet project that other people based on his, and other people's work. No matter how much was borrowed from GNU (and borrowing is encouraged), it simply is not his project to name. If RMS wanted the GNU project's contributions to be acknowledged in the name, he should have required it in the license. Otherwise, I'm going to continue calling it the reasonably catchy 'Linux', rather than the awkward 'GNU/Linux'.

    • by Amon Re ( 102766 ) on Sunday August 19, 2001 @06:59PM (#2195123)
      I will probably be the only here to defend RMS, but I totally agree with Linux being called GNU/Linux when talking about an entire distribution instead of just the kernel. You are ignoring the work of a lot of developers by just calling it Linux. And I know people will say "We should call it Xfree86/BSD/GNU/Linux then." Well Xfree86 and a lot of the BSD code isn't needed at all to get an operating system up and running. GNU and Linux represent the core that is needed.
      • Re:Thought Police (Score:5, Interesting)

        by brianvan ( 42539 ) on Sunday August 19, 2001 @07:12PM (#2195166)
        The core that is needed to whom? YOU? What if I need Xfree86, BSD, and perhaps other commercial applications as part of my operating system? Then do I refer to all of them?

        I mean, surely when I tell people what OS I use, I say Windows 98, not Windows98/Office2000/Winamp/AOL/ATI Drivers/Creative Labs Drivers/Winzip/Acrobat Reader...

        I approve of different vendors calling their distributions whatever they want, based on Linux or not. Let Red Hat Linux simply be Red Hat... let them call it Red Hat Linux if they have a Red Hat Windows Compatible OS too. Maybe there's good reasons not to do that either, but I see no reason why Linux should be called GNU/Linux. GNU does not own Linux. And I would laugh if Linus sold the rights off to the kernel one day, as Stallman would be very very screwed...
        • Re:Thought Police (Score:5, Insightful)

          by reverius ( 471142 ) on Sunday August 19, 2001 @07:27PM (#2195230) Homepage Journal
          Okay, lets set this straight once and for all.

          What is part of the operating system?

          - kernel
          - libraries necessary to run C programs
          - the most basic interface possible

          What is not part of the operating system?

          - GUI
          - web browser
          - office suite
          - your mom

          Okay... so, you should call linux "GNU/Linux", because GNU tools are a larger percentage of the Operating System itself than even the Linux kernel.

          You should not call windows "Windows98/Acrobat Reader" because Acrobat Reader in no way qualifies as a "part of the Operating System".
          • Okay, lets set this straight once and for all.

            Any line one tries to draw in the sand is an arbitrary one. Your line has the GUI on "non-operating system" side of the line. It that true of Windows? No, the GUI is built into the kernel, putting it on the OS side. Is that true of Linux? Moreso, but the DRI drivers and the framebuffer stuff is in the kernel, too. TCP/IP is the other way around. It is built into the Linux kernel, but it is a library on Windows (and an add-on library, at that).
          • Why define an OS that way? It's just dumb. The OS at its most basic form is a command interpreter of some sort, which can be just a kernel. Why specify that an OS must contain libraries that can run C programs? Don't people use languages other than C? And how about straight assembly? If someone writes something that functions as an OS, but it doesn't have C libraries and must be coded for by other means, it's still an OS. Or are we going to start arbitrarily defining things by what languages and libraries they use? Doesn't a piece of software serve the same function, whether it's written in C or Java or Python or whatever? Then stop defining an OS by a compiler or a library. If you want to see an OS at its most basic, just put an ancient DOS on an empty drive, along with whatever text config files that version of DOS will require to load itself. Sure, DOS usually has other files for "external commands" and for access to upper memory, etc.,--but they aren't necessary to do the absolute basics.

            It's just stupid, and besides many people use OSes who wouldn't use a compiler and wouldn't know or care what libraries their software is linked to. An OS, like it or not, is defined by its kernel.

            Let me lather, rinse, and repeat: an OS is defined by its kernel. And here's where I prove it: If I run a Solaris box and install and link to a bunch of GNU stuff, does that magically transform my OS into GNU/Solaris? NO.

            This is why I think Stallman should be largely ignored now that he has already made his historic contribution of the GNU tools. He will go down in history for that accomplishment. But at the moment he's a hindrance, not a help. He has passed his prime, made his contribution, and is now being a petty bitch who squabbles about naming an OS he didn't write. He is actively trying to harm Linux, what with his devotion to the HURD. Anyone who doubts this, should read the post referenced in this story where the Linux glibc porter/maintainer states that Stallman tried to push him into working on glibc for Hurd instead of for Linux.

            It should be obvious that Linux is RMS's "bastard child"--it's the first OS born from the GNU tools, and it has made the Free Software movement what it is today as well as helping spawn Open Source. Without Linux, Free Software would still be a tiny little movemwent instead of being on so many desktops and servers. Yet Stallman doesn't care about Linux, he cares about finally building the kernel for his GNU/HURD dream and eventually putting Linux out to pasture. And that's fine. But don't be a schmuck and think Stallman cares about Linux or should be listened to about a damned thing that has to do with Linux. If it were up to him, all Linux developers would drop their work and start on the Hurd. Things like the attempted coup mentioned in this story just go to show that RMS is slowly sabotaging Linux, in order to promote his Hurd. And before marking this as flamebait, at least read the account linked in the story.
          • Re:Thought Police (Score:4, Interesting)

            by Jboy_24 ( 88864 ) on Monday August 20, 2001 @01:05AM (#2196178) Homepage
            Hmmm, lets look at my Dell machine that is running linux...

            Sony CDR,
            Intel processor
            Rambus memory
            IBM harddrive
            Sony monitor
            Dell motherboard

            You can't very well run a computer without a processor, memory or a harddrive? What arogance of Micheal Dell to call his computers just 'Dell' when he depends on other company's to create THE MOST ecential(sp?) parts of his computers? Shouldn't he give credit to Sony for the CDR and monitor by calling the computer the SonyDell XPS 830? Why Sony even makes a competing product, should they be pissed that Dell just came and USED their CDR and monitor without making his own to sell? What about Intel? A processor 'defines' the computer as to what it can or can't run. I won't be looking at OS/X now that I've got an Intel processor, so shouldn't my comptuer be called a InDell XPS 830?

            Of cousre not, Dell gets to name it Dell because they packaged up the off the shelf parts and put them together and most inportant, they TAKE RESPONSIBLITY for it working. If linux was a POS then RMS would proabaly SUE Linus for naming his OS GNU/Linux. Linux is named linux be cause you look to Linus, the kenrel developers and the distributers of LINUX to insure that Linux works as an operating system. RMS takes NO responsibility that GNU stuff will work with any new version of the kernel, therefore he gets no mention except as Dell might mention Sony. As a feature of the Computer. Not as the computer itself.

        • What about the core that is needed by someone ot maintain that core?

          Then you will find that particular subset to comprise the compile toolchain - GCC, make, etc is dominated by GNU software.

        • Re:Thought Police (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Oestergaard ( 3005 )
          Ok, first of all, Linus cannot sell the rights to the kernel, because I like many others *own* part of it.

          Now why is that and how can that be? Well, it's because the Linux kernel is licensed under the *G*N*U* Public License.

          This, is why it is not completely unreasonable to think of Linux as somthing being a part of the GNU system, although, yes, I know, FSF does not have the copyright.

          And this, is why it is a lot more reasonable to think of Linux as GNU, than GNU as Linux.
      • Re:Thought Police (Score:5, Insightful)

        by p3d0 ( 42270 ) on Sunday August 19, 2001 @07:28PM (#2195238)
        I have an idea. GNU/Linux is a bit of a mouthful, so let's use an abbreviation. I recommend "Linux".
      • Yes, but who says what is "all that is needed"? Maybe I disagree that gcc or bash are needed, and that all that's needed to run a Linux system is the kernel? Or what if I think that Linux is paired with Apache but not XFree86 and therefor Should be Called the Apache/Linux system?

        It's a delicate point, and you have to walk a fine line to try to keep people happy. Personally I don't disagree that GNU tools were essencial, but "linux" is a hell of a lot easier to say than "GNU/Linux", and in the history of Unix, when did anyone go longer, rather than shorter? :)
      • Re:Thought Police (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Telek ( 410366 ) on Sunday August 19, 2001 @09:35PM (#2195607) Homepage
        When I say that I run Linux, I am not saying "Hey, I run this great os written by one guy called Linus Torvalds". I'm saying that I run a free os that is developed by many many many people in total. Adding the GNU/ to the front of the name does nothing towards additional recognation of anyone's work. You don't mention the hardware that it was developed on, the people's names or anything else when talking about the name of your OS. Linux has become an ideal, a namesake, a beacon. It doesn't matter that little billy bob just released his version of SlippyNix 2.0, it's all part of the same cause, the same ideal. A name is not what we're fighting for here guys, it's the thought behind it. Free software (as in beer AND speech) has got to be about more than bickering and fussing about who gets to lay claim to what. We're not about laying claim guys, we're about free speech, free beer, and free ideals, or at least that's what everyone keeps professing and bitching about here.

        Let's choose our real battles, everyone here, and RMS too... What's more important? GNU/Linux or Skylarov and DMCA and DeCSS and tyrany?

        That question I leave up to you to decide.

        {soap box mode: off}
    • What is so hard about typing GNU/Linux now? Such simple effort expended towards acknowledging so many people. Why not?
      • If you spell it out... GNULINUX and say it phonetically correct, you get...

        NUL LIN UX

        Unless you are a retard. In which case you would say the GNU part in the correct (but incorrect by english rules way)

        G NUL LIN UX.

        We could drop the NUL, for reasons I could poke Pun at but refues to do so. Also it would make it shorter.

        G LIN UX

        The G and the LIN sound better if you remove the space. Since UX sounds so much like SUX and FUX (not to mention, TRUX and DUX, though both are irrelevent to this direction of thinking), we will drop the UX which leaves us with...


        Since many Linux people feel the Kernal is more important than everything else, we could move the G to the end.


        These changes may seem a bit extreme, but I think if people give them some thought they would see that it's actually more sensible than this whole GNU/LINUX thing.
    • "Isn't it striking that people who claim to be members of a group advocating free thought and speech would be so anal and vitrolic about everyone who doesn't call Linux GNU/Linux?"

      I get your point, BUT, its not that simple

      For many years RMS was, if not the sole keeper of the "Open Software" (avoiding all the cliche and predefined terms) the "Atlas" upon whose shoulders the burden of making the case for open software and systems against ALL of IBM and the "BUNCH" (IBM and Burroughs, Univac, NCR, Control Data, Honeywell) all of whom would have done just about anything to keep their intellectual fiefdoms as closed as possible ***FOREVER***!

      In those many years of intellectual and philosophical isloation, Stallman became a "Gadfly", as this is one way to further your case in the face of overwhelming opposition and resistance.

      RMS could have cashed in at any point, and there is little doubt that had he done so, he could well be a billionaire today. Instead, he stuck with his passion and beliefs.

      So, now a new generation comes along, with a new perspective on open software and systems.

      RMS looks at us and must think "If only they knew how hard it was to keep the FSF idea alive. and they're "selling it out" for a few dollars!"

      Yes, he can be autocratic, elitist and intolerant, and occasionally manipulative and Machiavellian, but he's like those Japanese soldiers from WWII, found in the jungles of the Phillipines and other South Pacific islands, who emerge in their 80's and 90's still fighting for Imperial Japan....

      Their early experiences have so imprinted them, that they have become captives of conflicts fought and battles long over.

      Let's give him our respect and compassion for all that he's accomplished in the past, (we wouldn't be here without him) and fight our own contemporary battles for the advancement of open software and systems, and leave him to his memories.

      Let us not be distracted by distracting and nonproductive tautological discussions from another time and place.
  • by cluening ( 6626 ) on Sunday August 19, 2001 @06:48PM (#2195085) Homepage
    Adding GNU to the front of Linux seems to me a lot like adding "FedEx" to the front of "Super Bowl" or something like that. It just seems like somebody wanting to get their name in lights for doing background work. Maybe I'm strange, but when I do background work, I usually enjoy being credited in the background someplace, not out in front of the people who pull things together in the end...
    • Well, when you buy or download a CD with a linux distribution, there is a lot of GNU software on it. Caldera's OpenUNIX product linked to yesterday demonstrates that for most users, the software environment is a much bigger piece of the "user experience" than the kernel.

      However, there is a lot of other non-GNU software, too. It isn't really practical to say you use Mandrake X/KDE/GNU/Apache/Mozilla/Linux.

      RMS, as a developer, thinks the development toolchain is the most important part of a system. Since almost all the development tools, plus the basic UNIX toolset (fileutils, shellutis, etc.) and emacs are all GNU software, GNU provides most of the software he uses directly.

      To many other people, X, or their desktop environment, web browser, or irc client are the most important part of their system.

      That is why I say Linux, but RMSs crusade for GNU/Linux doesn't bother me, nor do others who choose to say GNU/Linux.

      However, what it sounds like he tried with glibc2 is inexcusable. I am going to withold final judgment until I see a statement from him, but I just lost a lot of respect for him.

      RMS can be extremely obnoxious and hostile, but 99% of the time he is right. Here he is wrong.
  • Stallman.... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Crossfire ( 15197 ) on Sunday August 19, 2001 @06:59PM (#2195124) Homepage
    I'm pretty sure those of us who have met Stallman in person would agree wholeheartedly.

    Despite the fact the cause has some degree of validity, the extremes which he takes it to regularly stomps on people's toes, and is generally antisocial.

    I had the (mis?)fortune to meet him during one of his visits to Canberra, Australia - which, over lunch, he proceded to argue that our local Linux Users Group (CLUG) should rename itself to the Canberra GNU/Linux Users Group. This did not go down well.

    Even though there are some fairly valid reasons as to why, its still fairly egotistical of him - did he ask for a consensus of all the developers releasing "GNU Software"? Does his own technical work make up a large slice of the GNU works used by linux? [No, Emacs does not count as a large slice, despite its footprint. ;)]

    Just consider RMS as what he really is, a politican.
    • Re:Stallman.... (Score:5, Informative)

      by jorbettis ( 113413 ) on Sunday August 19, 2001 @07:12PM (#2195164) Homepage

      Well, it's not about stallman's ego, it's about making people realize that there is more to Free Software than the apolitical views of Linus.

      BTW, here's a quote from one of Stallman's speeches (it was very well recieved):

      When I do this, some people think it's because I want my ego to be fed. Of course, it's not like I'm asking you to call it Stallmanix.

      -- Richard Stallman on GNU/Linux

      • by sv0f ( 197289 )
        When I do this, some people think it's because I want my ego to be fed. Of course, it's not like I'm asking you to call it Stallmanix.

        Nice try. This must be a forgery.

        It's a bit too glib, see?
      • by miguel ( 7116 ) on Monday August 20, 2001 @12:44AM (#2196128) Homepage
        Linus did not choose the name `Linux'. Linus chose the name `Freax' and the guy running the archive decided that was a horrible name and renamed the kernel for him.

        People gathered around this new operating system that was being written from scratch, and they wrote piles of tools that were missing for this new Linux thing. Many tools came from GNU, yes, but many others were assembled and contributed by many people specifically to make Linux run.

        It is funny how history is rewritten these days. If you ask the people who were around rms on the early days of Linux, you will see that they tell a story from different angles: `Do not work on Linux, work on the Hurd, anything else is a waste of time'. At least this is the story as told by Donald and now Ulrich.
      • by Angelwrath ( 125723 ) on Monday August 20, 2001 @01:59AM (#2196273)
        If Stallman wants proper credit given to GNU/Linux, and he contributed so much to GNU, I say we combine Stallman and Linux to give both central figures credit to the OS.

        We will now call it "Stallinux".

    • by sharkey ( 16670 ) on Sunday August 19, 2001 @08:15PM (#2195395)
      ...rename itself to the Canberra GNU/Linux Users Group. This did not go down well.

      But then you could call yourselves "C-GLUG", and make beer a staple part of your group.
    • Re:Stallman.... (Score:3, Insightful)

      > Just consider RMS as what he really is, a politican.

      Q. Does RMS lie when he speaks?
      A. No.
      R. Then he's not a politician.
  • Names (Score:3, Interesting)

    by _iris ( 92554 ) on Sunday August 19, 2001 @07:06PM (#2195141) Homepage
    I hope I don't see any README files bitching about "give credit where credit is due" and not calling GNU&Linux (my variant which is a bit more descriptive imo) by a name which gives credit to the GNU developers (not the FSF developers but anyone who releases their code under the GPL).

    On the other hand, does the name of XMMS give credit to the mpg123 developers? There are plenty of projects which repackage other GNU software without giving credit in the name. Does the GNU licensing give enough credit? I really don't think so, but demanding that the name of every project incorporated is not the answer either. Mozilla/XPCom/Bugzilla/Talkback/etc.

    --Drew Vogel

  • "People have asked my opinion, and I'll just leave it by saying I don't prefix "Linux" with those 3 little letters and a slash even tho I've been asked."

    Never mind that when I purchase or download a Linux version 70% or more of the included software is GNU. Right?

    Wow, Rob. Colour me surprised ... NOT .

    If you want to boot to a good OS for free in all it's connotations try the Linux kernel. If you wish to also be productive, your almost certain to be using GNU [] software. And even if you aren't, chances are that your kernel was compiled by the GNU Compiler Collection [] (GCC). Linux sans GNU ? Please at least try to be serious.

  • The LGPL does not try to force anyone to use any GNU/whatever naming conventions. The excerpt from the license that is in the release notes is from the LGPL's preamble, it does not require any LGPL project to include GNU in its name, nor does it require Linux vendors to rename their products.

    The glibc's release notes unfortunately don't mention what exactly RMS reqeusted, other than "control". "Control" is a very vague term. What kind of unacceptable changes did he ask for?

    Also, the "or any later version" provision of the (L)GPL does not allow RMS to "to screw you when it pleases him", because the license explicitly states that "Such new versions will be similar in spirit to the present version."

    I consider the release notes FUD until someone can present me some very convincing facts.

  • by The Pim ( 140414 ) on Sunday August 19, 2001 @07:27PM (#2195232)
    tension continues to grow between the extreme free speech faction and the more moderate folks.

    Ulrich is actually a pretty staunch defender of software freedom. I think this is a political and personality conflict, more than a difference in ideology.

    But then, Ulrich is quite inscrutable, so I don't claim to speak for him.

  • I've heard the comparison before, I forget where but perhaps it was with ESR, between the sociosphere of software development and an acetylene molecule. Basically, acetylene is two carbon atoms with a triple bond between them, each of which has a hydrogen atom single bonded off the opposite side. Like so: H-C#C-H (pretend the # is a triple bond).

    Here's the comparison: Stallman and Gates are the hydrogen atoms, the little guys at the opposite ends of the molecule. House Open Source and House Proprietary are the carbon atoms, triple bonded to each other and single bonded to their respective zealots.

    The vast majority of the energy in an acetylene molecule is in that triple bond between the carbon atoms. So it would seem that the vast majority of the energy in the software universe is in the bond between open source and proprietary camps, that is, in the individual developers who might work for the proprietary side and go home to the open source side. The hydrogen atoms really don't have much of an impact on the molecule until one or both goes flying off in some other direction. At that point, the molecule has to rearrange itself and usually ends up dispensing with all that energy in the triple bond in the form of an explosion. With Gates espousing Shared Source and Stallman making a power grab, I guess that explosion is due any day now.

    When acetylene combusts, two acetylene molecules ideally combine with three oxygen molecules to form two carbon dioxide molecules and one water. Let's assume that oxygen, in this little chemical analogy, represents lawyers....

    I'm sure you can take it from there.
    • That analogy is not ESR; it's Larry Wall, from the Third State of the Onion []. It's a great extended metaphor, but does make the mistake of calling the two sides "open source" and "commercial", as opposed to "non-proprietary" and "proprietary". RMS isn't against commercial software per se, just proprietary software, which is currently the dominant commercial model (which did make him effectively against commercial software until the recent establishment of revenue streams for free aka open source software).
      To quote:
      This is the molecule known to most of you as acetylene.

      If we're to make this correspond to last year's picture, then this hydrogen atom on the left is named Richard, and the one on the right is named Bill. (Hmm, they seem to be circling each other. How appropriate.) [Well, they were circling in my talk, anyway.] This carbon atom on the left is all the open source folks that are trying to cooperate constructively with commercial folks, and this other carbon atom is all the commercial folks trying to cooperate with open source folks. The bond in the middle is simultaneously the strongest bond and the weakest bond. It's the strongest bond, because it's a triple bond. It's also the weakest bond, because it's a very energetic bond, and could be broken by outside forces.

      But not by inside forces.

      Let me be specific. Some folks in this room are extremely leery of Bill. Others are extremely leery of Richard. These people tend to be leary not only of the opposite hydrogen, but also the opposite
      carbon. They are supplying the repulsive forces, because they fear the opposite extreme.

      At the same time, there are lots of good people who are actively supplying the attractive forces. Nobody has enough power to crush the two carbons together. Nobody has enough power to tear them
      apart. They're in a metastable state. They have tensegrity. It's my hope that the open source movement achieves this kind of tensegrity.

      That being said, acetylene is flammable. If it is abused too much, it can explode. I only ever had one unanticipated explosion when I was doing chemistry in my basement, and that was when I was
      generating acetylene. I was an idiot, and was generating it in a small glass jar. Don't try this at home. Fortunately, it was a very small glass jar, and I was already wearing glasses at the time. I was shaken but unhurt. I don't play with acetylene much any more, because it is rather touchy stuff. So maybe, if you're thinking about starting a war between the open source folks and the commercial folks, you should think again. First of all, you'll be fighting against a lot of good folks, and you'll probably lose. Second of all, you might win, and the world will be split up into separate atoms.

      Maybe that's what the hydrogens on the end want, but the carbons in the middle would really like to stick together and make something useful.

      If we try hard enough, maybe we can make open source into something stable in the middle.

  • Just out of curiosity, are there any movements out there to rewrite all the GNU tools? I would think there would be a lot of people in favor of something, with all the pro-BSD license folks, and just people who generally think that having one, let say, socially challenged guy in charge of a lot of software is a bad idea.

    It could even be GPL (although I think the BSD license is "freer"), but to tell you the truth, I think there would be a lot of benefit of moving beyond the FSF. To quote the movie Lawrence of Arabia:

    Feisal: The world is delighted at the picture of Damascus liberated by the Arab army.
    Allenby: Led, may I remind you, sir, by a British-serving officer.
    Feisal: Ah yes. But then Aurens [Lawrence] is a sword with two edges. We are equally glad to be rid of him, are we not?
    Allenby: I thought I was a hard man, sir.

    It's almost always better when revolutionaries die in the revolution.

  • by mdavids ( 143296 ) on Sunday August 19, 2001 @07:36PM (#2195266) Homepage
    "Stallman recently tried what I would call a hostile takeover of the glibc development. He tried to conspire behind my back and persuade the other main developers to take control so that in the end he is in control and can dictate whatever pleases him."

    How? Why?

    "The morale of this is that people will hopefully realize what a control freak and raging manic Stallman is."

    Because you say so? I think I'll reserve judgement until I hear something more than "He just is, okay!"

    This $&%$& demands everything to be labeled in a way which credits him and he does not stop before making completely wrong statements like "its variant".

    Aha! So that's what it's all about. I find it surprising that someone working on "the GNU C library" as it's called in these release notes, should take exception to the idea that it's supposed to be a part of the GNU operating system.

    Calling the operating system GNU/Linux, GNU/Hurd or whatever is not egotism (or not just egotism, anyway). It's an accurate description of what the system is. Look at, for instance, reviews [] calling openUNIX "Linux without Linux". That just sounds absurd, unless you know that the first "Linux" actually means "GNU".

    I find this completely unacceptable and can assure everybody that I consider none of the code I contributed to glibc (which is quite a lot) to be as part of the GNU project and so a major part of what Stallman claims credit for is simply going away.

    Does not play well with others. End of story.

  • by cperciva ( 102828 ) on Sunday August 19, 2001 @07:45PM (#2195297) Homepage
    ... but also make sure you refer to Microsoft BSD/Windows.

    Giving credit where credit is due is one thing, but trying to give everyone credit in the name is just going to lead to horribly long names.
  • Hypocrisy (Score:3, Informative)

    by Feign Ram ( 114284 ) on Sunday August 19, 2001 @07:47PM (#2195302)
    Found this interesting entry in Miguel de Icaza's weblog - ml, dated Jul'28th -

    I talked to Don Becker about GNU/Linux, and he had an interesting story to tell. Back in the day when he was at MIT and was an active contributor to gcc, he tried to get RMS to support Linux. RMS' answer back in the day went along the lines of `Linux is a waste of time, work on the Hurd instead, it is the future'.

    An interesting twist to the Linux vs GNU/Linux debate.

    Seems to confirm what RMS told Drepper. He seems to want it both ways . More developers need to come forward with their experiences - they will be doing the community a service.
  • My opinion is that software is more useful when it is non-propietary. I think, in a sense, that this makes people somewhat more free (to do what they wish with the software).

    I don't really agree with the Open Source concept. The concept, as I understand it, is that software should be non-propietary just because it makes the software less buggy and allows the Open Source Development Model.

    However, this means there is no reason to give free use to small software. I am learning how to program and I like to see small examples of software to learn from and eventually use in my own software. This is kind of like freedom but not exactly (and the FSF has repeatedly said that freedom isn't a completely satisfactory word but there isn't anything better).

    Now, what this has to do with RMS--I have no idea. For the reasons above, I support most of the views on . And my views are independent of RMS and anyone else---its just that we happen to agree.

    There is some wishful thinking on my part. The first is that there is a GNU without RMS. It seems almost all of the pages on are authored by RMS. I would like to think there is at least some kind of democracy at work within the GNU community and the FSF to balance against natural human limitations (like ego and fanatism).

    But even if RMS is as bad as some say--it doesn't change my view. I would be for the development of a new free software organization if necessary. But already GNU is big in the hearts and minds of the free software community.
  • Not the first time (Score:5, Interesting)

    by one-egg ( 67570 ) <> on Sunday August 19, 2001 @08:01PM (#2195354) Homepage
    Stallman did the same thing in the early 90's with ispell. Briefly, a misunderstanding about licensing led him to conclude that I would never release ispell under a GPL-compatible license, so he decided to find an independent branch for release with the FSF stamp of approval. That part was fine, but he quite deliberately chose to call his version "ispell 4.0" in an attempt to fool people into converting from ispell 3.x. People weren't fooled, much screaming resulted, and ispell 4.0 eventually disappeared off the face of the earth after I switched ispell 3.x to the BSD license.

    A more complete version of the tale can be found in the Contributors file in the ispell distribution. That narration bends over backwards to avoid starting a flame war, so it is quite generous in describing Stallman's actions. But I haven't forgotten his attempts to trick the general public into doing what he wanted (which continue to this day), nor the generally rude way in which he behaved.

    • by Per Abrahamsen ( 1397 ) on Monday August 20, 2001 @07:06AM (#2196737) Homepage
      You (I assume you are Geoff Kuenning) leave out a lot from that story...

      1. The version wasn't merely not "GPL-compatible", it wasn't open software either. Specifically, it did not allow for-profit distribution alone.

      2. People suggested removing these restrictions to you was vicioucly flamed, you wouldn't even accept that these restriction existed. This might be the cause of the "misunderstanding".

      3. ispell 4.0 was not derived from your code. It was derived from the code of _original_ ispell author (i.e. not you), who had assigned his code to the FSF. Specifically, it lacked all the i18n features you had added.

      It is true that FSF withdraw[1] ispell 4.0 as soon as ispell 3.x was released under a free software license. I think that makes it pretty clear that the action was in defence for free software, not an attempt to increase their control.

      [1] As far as one can withdraw alreeady released free software -- ispell 4.0 still have DOS/Windows users as version 3 was much harder to port to DOS. This, b.t.w. is still a cause of confusion about what version is newer. Something that could easily be solved by releasing a version 3 derivative as version 5. That would require someone to be more pragmatic and less determined about whose fault it is, though.
      • It is true that FSF withdraw[1] ispell 4.0 as soon as ispell 3.x was released under a free software license. I think that makes it pretty clear that the action was in defence for free software, not an attempt to increase their control.

        Doesn't the fact that they withdrew 4.0 as soon as 3.x was released makes it about nothing BUT control? RMS/FSF wanted ispell (a popular program!) released under a license that pleases them because of vanity and control. When the current author of the program doesn't go along easily, they come out with their own incompatible version.

        Extend and embrace, Chairman RMS style.
  • by Improv ( 2467 ) <> on Sunday August 19, 2001 @08:08PM (#2195376) Homepage Journal
    Essentially some wording that postures Linux as
    an *alternative* to what the GNU project considers
    it's 'main' thrust, Hurd? And this fellow didn't
    manage to win over enough support within the
    glibc project to stop a wording change?
    Admittedly, RMS's obsession with this wordplay
    seems to me to be unwise (it'd be better if he'd
    focus on keeping the movement ideologically pure
    rather than focusing on diction), but this fellow
    doesn't strike me as being any more wise.
    Posturing and replies to it are a waste of time --
    where there are no actual effects on the way
    things are run, it's better to just ignore such
    things and spend that time coding, fighting
    intellectual property, and other worthwhile causes.
  • Stallman (Score:5, Interesting)

    by mikethegeek ( 257172 ) <blair@@@NOwcmifm...comSPAM> on Sunday August 19, 2001 @08:16PM (#2195398) Homepage
    I really admire RMS, but I have to say, he does go off the deep end to the point that he may be doing more to HURT the FSF than help it.

    I understand that free software is as much a political movement as it is an idea for better software. However, RMS seems to be HOSTILE to those who don't make the same choices he does. Freedom to me, means, that, freedom. It's about having the freedom to make good or bad choices.

    The KDE controversy, and this takeover attempt on GLIBC etc, makes him look more like a raving lunatic, and by extension, makes ALL of us who support the principle of the GPL and open source look the same. Why? Because Stallman proclaims himself the leader of the whole movement whenever asked, or not asked.

    While I have tremendous respect for the man, and his philospohy, his despotic style runs contrary to the whole anarchistic nature of free software. RMS needs to realize that not EVERYTHING needs to be called "GNU/".
    • Re:Stallman (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Malcontent ( 40834 )
      HOSTILE? I think not. Nothing RMS ever says or does comes close the hostility exhibited by other political animals in the US. Just today for example I saw someone from call Gary Condit a "mass murderer" on Fox News (of course it being fox news the host did not ask him to actually clarify that statement but just let it stand). So compare the so called hostility of RMS to your typical republican on fox news and he comes of like a gentleman. Compare his hostility to the average republican radio talk show host and he comes off as a saint. Compare his hostility to the republican triggerman who puts a bullet into a abortion doctors head and he comes of as an angel.

      Face it the United States is one of the most hostile nations on the planet. What RMS does is childs play compared to the merchants of hostility and hate that pollute the airwaves these days. Put RMS on side of the table and Bill O'reilly on the other and see who is hostile.
      • Re:Stallman (Score:3, Insightful)

        by elefantstn ( 195873 )
        Compare his hostility to the republican triggerman who puts a bullet into a abortion doctors head and he comes of as an angel.

        Right. The GOP has secret death squads going from clinic to clinic gunning down doctors.

        Please stop being an idiot.

      • Re:Stallman (Score:3, Insightful)

        by revscat ( 35618 )
        As a liberal, I would like to ask you to please shut the fuck up and use your brain, such as it is, before posting. I would also like to point out that your interpretation of these events you witnessed on TV, even if correct, doesn't matter in the slightest. The underlying wrongness of RMS's behaviors isn't negated just because RMS isn't as egregious as other parties. Two wrongs don't make a right.

        Gads. Is there a spectrum of wrongness going from mildly naughty to diabolically evil? Certainly. Just because something lies closer the naughty end of that spectrum doesn't negate its underlying wrongness.

  • by MarkusQ ( 450076 ) on Sunday August 19, 2001 @08:19PM (#2195410) Journal
    I'll bet Microsoft loves this whole "debate."

    Imagine their war room--one whole wall is a giant whiteboard, filled with a huge grid. Each week a top PR droid goes over and picks a blank cell. They make a few phone calls, and by the end of the week Eris has drawn a little golden apple in the cell.

    I'll bet someone is on the phone right now, trying to get Ransome Love to say something ill-advised about fetchmail.

    -- MarkusQ

  • by Guppy06 ( 410832 ) on Sunday August 19, 2001 @08:20PM (#2195411)
    Lots of people have made the analogy between the two as far as the advantages of free software are concerned. However, looking at this little tidbit, it looks like free software has some of the disadvantages as well (but there are differences between the two that make the disadvantages less severe).

    The main problem with communism and free software is that, in order to get get to the blissful anarchy that Marx promises, you need a period of totalitarian management to restructure from the existing system to the new one. Unfortunately, absolute power corrupts asolutely, and you're stuck with a totalitarian system that doesn't want to give up.

    This really rears its ugly head when the philosophy starts to expand. As both communism and free software started to catch on, the bigger proponents of the philosophy would rather expand the power of their own totalitarian regimes rather than help establish autonomous regimes. In the eyes of Moscow, for example, the Ukraine Socialist Republic was good, but the Ukraine Soviet Socialist Republic was better (it wasn't until later that they learned of the advantages of puppet states). And the same is true with the GNU: Instead of presenting themselves and their liscencing scheme as one out of a list of alternatives, they'd rather all free software be written under the GPL.

    Fortunately, when all is said and done, we're talking about an operating system and not a system of government. No matter how much people like Stallman bitch and moan, dissenting voices never have to worry about the GNU/KGB descending upon them and the Coders' Army won't send in the tanks to prevent code forking. So when all is said and done, short of brainwashing, people are still perfectly capable of making up their own mind about what they want to write or run, Which is good, because I find some GNU tools to be a pain to learn...

    At any rate, in the game of Axis & Allies that is the OS war, we'll call Microsoft facist Germany, GNU will be the Soviet Union, and for the role of the political moderates (relatively speaking), we have corporations like IBM and RedHat as the US and the UK. Now all we need is somebody to play Japan...

    Oh, yeah, Apple. Duh...

  • by Guppy06 ( 410832 ) on Sunday August 19, 2001 @08:24PM (#2195417)
    If we have Gates/Borg pic as the icon for MS, why not modify a pic of Stallman for the GNU icon? Maybe put a fuzzy hat on his head and give him a Stalin-esque mustache. Or maybe something inspired by C&C: Red Alert.

    OK, now I'm thinking about using that Hell March tune from the game as the start-up sound in Gnome...

  • GNUisance (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Rosco P. Coltrane ( 209368 ) on Sunday August 19, 2001 @08:50PM (#2195494)
    Pigdog journal [] coined this term during their interview with Stallman [] that I think describe him very accurately.
  • by RelliK ( 4466 ) on Sunday August 19, 2001 @09:43PM (#2195623)
    So let me get this straight: some guy accuses RMS of "hostile takeover" of a *GNU* project. This guy makes some strong claims in his article. He uses terms like "conspiracy", "embrace and extend", "stab in the back", etc. Such extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence... and he offers none. There are only two pieces of information in the article:
    1) Steering Comittee was formed so that one person (the whining guy) does not have complete control over the project
    2) glibc license was changed from LGPL 2.0 to LGPL 2.1.
    And this is supposed to be bad how? How does that justify the claim that RMS is a "control freak"? Everything else in the article is pure rhetoric without even a shed of evidence.

    People, please, before you do your usual "some guy good, RMS bad" knee-jerk reaction read the damn article and think. glibc is GNU libc, it is not a one man's project. It sounds to me like this guy is a control freak -- he started whining after he realized that other people have a say in the project development. So yeah, this entire article is a troll.
    • Re:Score -1, Troll (Score:5, Insightful)

      by krogoth ( 134320 ) <> on Monday August 20, 2001 @04:15AM (#2196469) Homepage
      How about this:

      "The glibc situation is even more frightening if one realizes the story
      behind it. When I started porting glibc 1.09 to Linux (which
      eventually became glibc 2.0) Stallman threatened me and tried to force
      me to contribute rather to the work on the Hurd."

      That's how it's supposed to be bad. If you look at ESR's recent article, he says that developers should have the freedom to do what they want. If i'm not reading this wrong, Drepper is the maintainer of glibc, and so should decide what goes on - if he has a plan for how it will work and evolve, and it's his project, then he should have the right to have the project follow his plan, and not be taken out of his control.
      He also says:

      "I find this completely unacceptable and can assure
      everybody that I consider none of the code I contributed to glibc
      (which is quite a lot) to be as part of the GNU project and so a major
      part of what Stallman claims credit for is simply going away."

      If he's an important contributor, and the project maintainer, I think he has every right to control the project. He is not a control freak just because he wants his project to be given to someone else! This doesn't apply to all situations, but for some projects it's good to have one person in control who decides how things will work, and controls the overall architecture and the project in general.
      • Re:Score -1, Troll (Score:3, Insightful)

        by RelliK ( 4466 )
        "The glibc situation is even more frightening if one realizes the story behind it. When I started porting glibc 1.09 to Linux (which eventually became glibc 2.0) Stallman threatened me and tried to force me to contribute rather to the work on the Hurd."

        Exactly how can you "force" someone to contribute to a project? Especially since this library is released under LGPL, Drepper would be free to port it to whatever he wanted. Give me more details and some evidence. I'm not about buy rhetoric.

        If i'm not reading this wrong, Drepper is the maintainer of glibc, and so should decide what goes on

        You may have noticed the list of the main contributors. This is not, repeat not, a one-man project. Therefore, no one person should have complete control.

        I find this completely unacceptable and can assure everybody that I consider none of the code I contributed to glibc (which is quite a lot) to be as part of the GNU project and so a major part of what Stallman claims credit for is simply going away.

        That's funny cause glibc is GNU libc. This guy contributes some code to it and now suddenly it's no longer a part of the GNU project. Interesting. If I take the Linux kernel, contribute to it, then turn around and say I don't consider it a part of the Linux project, would that go over well?

        Sure, Drepper is an important contributor, but he is by no means the only contributor. Therefore, it seems to me rather that he is the control freak here: when he realized that other contributors have a say in "his" project, he started whining. This is nothing more than his ego.

  • by NortonDC ( 211601 ) on Sunday August 19, 2001 @10:50PM (#2195804) Homepage
    That's a contraction due to length constaints of RMS's actually sig in a letter to The Register.

    Richard Stallman
    Principal developer of the operating system often inaccurately called "Linux" []

    No, no glory grabbing at all, nothing to see here, move along...
  • by Andy Tai ( 1884 ) on Sunday August 19, 2001 @10:58PM (#2195831) Homepage
    RMS may like control, but look at this case we can see Drepper is the one with a bigger ego than RMS. Let's look at the facts:

    1. RMS is accused of taking over the control of a GNU project. Not mentioning that RMS probably started the glibc project and contributed code in earlier years, how has RMS tried to control glibc? Does RMS decide, say, how glibc should be written? I don't see that. Drepper is in full technical control.

    2. The only place where Drepper is unhappy about seems to be the "GNU/Linux" mentioning in LGPL 2.1. Otherwise LGPL 2.1 and 2.0 are about the same. The licenses give the same rights to users. Drepper makes a big deal out of a naming issue which is not even part of the actual license requirements. And glibc being a GNU Project, switching to LGPL 2.1 seems ony natural. Just a routine step.

    3. Drepper seems unhappy about the creation of a SC. He accuses the SC was an attempt to steal the project. From him. Now, who is the one wanting control here? The SC is a more democratic way to run a project than a single maintainer. At least the other contributors have more say than letting Drepper decide everything.

    4. Drepper wants control, which can be seen by his handling of the gcc 3 issue. Drepper disagreed with gcc developers (many of them) on certain technical issues over gcc 3. He once declared he would never accept patches to make glibc capable of being built with gcc 3. Despite other glibc contributors' attempts to find a solution, he just says, "NO, I won't accept any patches". This issue does not involve RMS at all, and Drepper just goes against many gcc developers, who are perhaps some of the smartest compiler people in the world. It is hard to say that Drepper is right and all these gcc people are wrong.

    RMS may like control, but in this story Drepper is more of a control freak and has a bigger ego.

    • Most FSF projects were started by volunteers, in the case of gcc, gdb and Emacs the volunteer was RMS.

      But glibc was, as far as I understand, a project where Roland McGrath was _hired_ by the FSF to write a C runtime library for use in GNU (and meanwhile in order to provide GCC with an ANSI C compliant library on proprietary Unixen. The first glibc target was SunOS).

      This makes it as much a GNU project as anything can be. Owned by and developed for GNU, in the start for FSF money.

      UD should of course have thanks for accepting the BURDEN of maintainership, his technical and political contributions to the project (convincing the Linux developers to use the official branch of the GNU library instead of thei own ancient branch is no major feat).

      However, if he somehow have forgotten that he was appointed to and have worked for years on a GNU project, I think it is best if he leave at least the political part of the job to someone else, for example a Steering Comittee (with people like Roland McGrath, the original author).
  • by rho ( 6063 ) on Monday August 20, 2001 @12:48AM (#2196137) Homepage Journal

    Think about what RMS does, and why -- he has a passionate belief "software should be Free", and expresses it in a fairly consistant manner. He fights a somewhat unpopular fight with little reward -- outside of recognition within of a small, tight-knit community, which isn't much.

    RMS has been fighting this fight longer than some GNU/Linux nerds have been alive. He had the vision to kick the thing off in the first place. His reward? A string of Slashdot readers questioning his relevency, sanity and parentage.

    While I may disagree with some of RMS's views (I get the occasional whiff of Unreconstructed Socialist from some of his writing, and nobody hates a commie (or a socialist) more than me), I have the utmost respect for his work, and I'm thankful for it.

    While Ulrich may have a genuine beef with RMS, waving it about in public (and Slashdot posting the story) is not very professional, nor productive.

  • by Adam J. Richter ( 17693 ) on Monday August 20, 2001 @02:17AM (#2196301)

    The basic idealogical dispute is that previously it was illegal to link glibc with proprietary software linked by non-GNU compilers due to a special "modified GPL" in the libio section of the GNU C Library. The change that the steering committee (who are developers like Roland McGrath, not just "Stallman") made was primiarily to convert that code to LGPL. Ulrich was the one being an idealogue about it. In this case, the steering committee was the group that was actually trying to get the right thing done for the users.

    The glibc-2.2.4 announcement advised everyone to switch to it. What the announcement did not mention is that if you try to configure glibc-2.2.4, you discover that it does not want to build under gcc-3. The steering committee is pushing for a fast release of glibc-2.2.5 which will not have this problem.

    So far, the steering committee seems to be a very positive influence. In the past, people were giving up hope on glibc due to its bloat, arcaneness, and legal issues. The SC seems much more focused on what users want.

    By the way, let me say that Ulrich Drepper has made many contributions to glibc and I hope he will continue to be involved as a contributor.

  • Stallman on politics (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Chris Siegler ( 3170 ) on Monday August 20, 2001 @02:20AM (#2196304)

    Crazy: A person who keeps doing the same thing again and again expecting different results.

    In must be infuriating to him why people don't agree with him when he's sure that his arguments are both correct and, to his mind anyway, persuasive. The problem is that he is still using the same tactics he used 10 years ago, but apparently hoping that the results will be different.

    He knows he's right and that if people just understood his point of view that they would rally behind his cause. It's his achilles heel, his kryptonite. Blessed with intelligence but without social skills.

    But I'm sure that nobody here can relate.

  • by Bruce W. Murphy ( 216707 ) on Monday August 20, 2001 @09:06AM (#2196907)
    I remember back in the good old days, when people were more than fully aware that Stallman was a frothing left-wing pinko frothing commie frothing fanatic... I specifically remember him trying to pull a very similar trick.

    All at once, he popped up on the linux kernel mailing list and demanded that becuase he was a big and very important person, that linux immediately be renamed 'lignux'. Naturally enough he was laughed off the face of thelist.

    Some weeks later the next major version of emacs was released featuring autoconf identifying systems as i386-unknown-lignux. Naturally enough, the rest of the world who hadn't seen Stallman's tantrum were puzzled by this. Eventually (the next day) someone released a patch and it swept the world bringing a certain frothing fanatic's to his knees.

    After the laughter and taunting had died down, it all just died away. I wonder how many people now involved with linux and this issue actually remember. Perhaps it should be a maxim that fanatics of any kind make dangerous enemies, but even more dangerous friends...

  • by gotan ( 60103 ) on Monday August 20, 2001 @09:07AM (#2196909) Homepage
    When reading the following snippet about version changes i decided to do as suggested and have a look at the license:

    Read the licenses carefully and rip out parts which give Stallman any possibility to influence your future. Phrases like
    [...] GNU Lesser General Public License as published by the Free Software Foundation; either version 2.1 of the License, or (at your option) any later version.
    just invites him to screw you when it pleases him. Rip out the "any later version" part [...]

    And sure enough, it wasn't part of the License itself, but of the (although suggestive) part on how to apply the license to your source code. In the License it says:
    13. The Free Software Foundation may publish revised and/or new versions of the Lesser General Public License from time to time. [...]

    Each version is given a distinguishing version number. If the Library specifies a version number of this License which applies to it and "any later version", you have the option of following the terms and conditions either of that version or of any later version published by the Free Software Foundation. If the Library does not specify a license version number, you may choose any version ever published by the Free Software Foundation.
    This clause seems a little strange at first, and note, that you can restrict the licensing of a library to a specific version of the LGPL (although it's not explicitly said so you can do so by specifying the LGPL-Version). I think there is a good reason for using that option though, as long as one assumes, that the LGPL and the GPL will stay the same in spirit (the [...] part in above quote): what if you merge two libraries or use part of one library with part of another, soon you'll probably find all versions of the LGPL applicable to different parts of the code. Also an upgraded Version might close some loopholes of previous ones, so if you trust the FSF to do the right thing with the LGPL it's probably a good thing to leave the option of a License upgrade open to later developers. And anyway, as long as one person or group of persons keep control of a project (in the sense of being responsible for it) it's their choice, what specific licence the actual code ships with.

    I also noted, that (3) allows to elevate LGPLd code to GPLd code. Again this makes sense, in the case that you want to use LGPLd code in a GPLd project (but not vice versa, which wouldn't make sense anyway, since that would 'degrade' the GPL to the LGPL). I think these paragraphs are in there for convenience's sake and not to give RMS total control over anything GPLd. Anyway, ripping the first quoted snippet out of context and using it to picture RMS as a controlfreak is, in my opinion, bad style. RMS often enough comes through, well, overenthusiastic, to say the least. The "GNU/Linux" vs. "Linux" debate doesn't help that either, but let's be honest, Linux wouldn't be what it is today, hadn't the GNU Software and the free software idea already been in place.

To do two things at once is to do neither. -- Publilius Syrus